Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Ditch Gods

While driving to Salem for a speaking engagement on Monday I noticed a bunch of highway flotsam and jetsam on the side of I-5. Actually, I suppose you can’t call it flotsam and jetsam unless it is in a water way, so let’s just say stuff that fell off trucks, though I think a more romantic name is in order.

Had the traffic been lighter I would have been tempted to pull over and pick up that shinny Estwing hammer, the Coleman cooler and the Imperial gallon gas can that I saw between Willsonville and Salem.

This brought to mind the story of the Ditch Gods. When my wife first moved in with me she would go for walks everyday. One day she brought home a kitten. She said she found it in the ditch on the side of the road. Later that week she found a television in the ditch. She brought it home for her kids to take apart, but when we plugged it in it worked perfectly well so we let the kids have and use it in their room.

After that, anything good we found in the ditch we considered as gifts from the Ditch Gods. We found perfectly good lumber, hardware, 5 cent deposit cans and bottles. One day I was driving home and I passed her while she was on her walk. She saw me coming and as I got closer she held up something fro me to see. She had captured a snake. “Look what the Ditch Gods are offering us today.” I told her no, she could not bring this Ditch God gift home. The snake needed to remain where it presently lived. She reminded me that if we refuse a gift from the Ditch Gods, we may be cut off from future gifts. I felt it was a risk we needed to take.

Since then we found a variety of other things in the ditch. We found a calf that we returned to its mother on the other side of the fence. We’ve since found bungi cords, a grain scoop, horse shoes, chains, good rope and other things. The Ditch Gods are still providing. One day I hope to rescue a shinny new back hoe or at least a Bob Cat loader.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dressing for Murderous Success

Here's another abandoned topic I spoke about last week:

Opinions become justified depending on the spin that gets put on actual events. Take for example three people known for being merchants of death, Adolph Hitler, Charles Manson and George W. Bush. None of the three mentioned ever actually killed anyone by their own hand, except Hitler did kill himself and his dog.

Manson’s influence caused the Helter Skelter murders, and recent findings are showing that previous murders may be attributed to him as well. Hitler’s influence caused the extermination of 8 million Jews. George Bush over-saw 155 executions in Texas while he was Governor. The term is Texecuted. Add to that the tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of American soldiers that have died in these two theaters is about the same number as the entire population of Warrenton.

Maybe it’s how you dress that makes the difference. If you wear jeans, you go to prison. If you wear a uniform you can be exiled or you may end your own life, but if you wear a suit you get to live in a palace and retire with a Secret Service protection.

Each of these three men totally justify (in their own heads)what they have done. The lives of others mean nothing to them. It would have been far easier if each left well enough alone. History may never be kind to any of them, but it obviously helps your image when you wear a suit.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Being there were some people who were upset over a photo I used in a recent post here I wanted to address what the taboos of writing are today. Reverence may always in play for a great many modern events, such as Morrow Building, all events of 911, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, Masada, Columbine, the two space shuttles and many more. Other things that may not be messed with are the Kennedys except for Ted (it's always open season on Ted) and JFK womanizing. We can’t mess with Martin Luther King, the Dali lama or Islam or any race or nationality, except maybe the Irish.

It’s a bad idea to joke about most diseases or anything that would involve treatment centers. It used to be OK to riff on fire fighters but they are all heroes now instead of the hapless townies who liked to drink and play cards when I was growing up. I think they now have Federally protected status. For Christ sake don’t ever joke about people who Home School.

It's not cool to joke about an older man who has sex with a teen, but it is OK if the older person is a woman and is a hot teacher and the teen is one of her male students. The DA will call it a crime worthy of the death penalty, while most guys are thinking how lucky that kid was and had it been them they would have kept their mouth shut and enjoyed the ride.

Using the formula, Tragedy + Time = Comedy, it is now OK to mess with the Inquisition, Henry the VIII, the entire Roman Empire, Attila the Hun and the Lincoln assignation. You can play with all the wars up to and including the invasion of Granada, but after that you are treading on thin ice. You can joke about the McCarthy era black lists. You can joke about Herbert Hoover.

You can joke about the Bush administration unless you are at a Republican rally. You can joke about the confederate flag only if you are North of the Mason Dixon line. You can joke about Californians trying to Californicate Astoria unless you are in an art gallery, at the Community Store, at an anti-LNG rally, or at a CCFOG meeting.

Have I missed anything?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

From The Past

We had a new local blogger post a comment here two days ago I went to their site and saw a post about the Daily Astorian is looking for readers memories of the visit of the Mighty Mo.. So Daily A staff, if you still are reading this blog every day like you used to, please feel free to publish the story below which first appeared on this blog in October of 2006 entitled "The Cutting Room Floor".

I suppose honesty often goes hand in hand with social ineptness. Maybe it’s the child like quality in us all that often makes us blurt things out that better judgment wouldn’t allow us to utter had we given a topic reasonable forethought.

I knew that traffic would be bad, and I promised someone a week before that I would meet them for coffee in town. It was a beautiful day so I rode my bicycle six or so miles into town knowing full well that traffic and parking would be nearly impossible.

The event was the Mighty Mo. The USS Missouri was visiting our fair city and it brought droves of people over the roads and bridges to Astoria. A bicycle was the only reasonable form of transportation if you needed to be anywhere on that day.

I was early, so I cycled around Smith point and I was easily able to get down to the port, where lines of people stood waiting to walk upon the teak decks of history. As I stood watching an historical event of all these people coming to Astoria, I found myself being scanned by a television news camera. A TV news reporter stepped beside me and asked one of those lame news questions like,” What do you think of the crowds coming to Astoria?”

I didn’t hesitate when I blurted out the answer. “It’s funny if you think of it, but every one of the people here will probably flush a toilet at least once during their stay. I’d hate to be at the sewer lagoon today.”

Needless to say, they had no follow-up questions for me after that. I watched the news that night and saw that I had ended up on the cutting room floor.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Voters Pamphlet

I’m just one of those people who look forward to getting the voters pamphlet before every election. There are always gems that await me inside. For the election this May there are two people that jumped out at me with the “Ho-Boy!” factor. Both are running for US Senate.

First, Democratic candidate, Pavel Goberman’s statement reads like someone who is willing to throw in the kitchen sink if he can get someone’s attention. He has worked in nearly every profession known to man and holds opinions that cross Democratic party lines into the realms of the Republican, Libertarian and Communist parties, and maybe more. He wants punishments for crime to be harder. He wants to lock up the borders. He wants English as the only language in the country. This guy is all over the place and certainly gives this pamphlet a comedic break.

Next is the Republican who is also opposing Gordon Smith for his Senate seat, Gordon Leitch. His statement reads like one of those rambling diatribes that Abraham Simpson has on the Simpsons , “Back when I was young in Shelbyville nickels had bees on them and you’d ask for five bees for a quarter and then we wore onions around our necks…”

I know I’m just a dopey blogger, and I don’t fully understand the history of US economics and economic theory, but damn, that is nothing to build a run for the Senate upon.

There is a part of me that wonders how much fun politics would be if we all decided to vote in only the total whack jobs. Tin foil hats and everything. I wonder if we might be better off.

So, that is as far as I’ve gotten. I see ahead three ballot measures that seem to have no statements of disagreement, but when I see the names that are for it being Kevin Manix and the Oregon District Attorneys Association I become full of skepticism and fear. Someone’s civil rights are probably on the line here and careful reading needs to be done. Especially since they are constitutional changes. Tread carefully people.

Kissing Frogs

It is once again time for me to go out and kiss a bunch of frogs. Yes, in the world of horse trading one must buy and sell horses. Just like buying a used car; you never "really" know what you are going to get. Something the owner is used to and accepts as OK behavior, may not be what I consider good and sometimes these traits don’t surface until long after the deal is done. Most behaviors can be trained out of a horse, but some never can.

With each horse I buy I learn more questions to ask that I never thought of until I had a problem. It used to be that I would take less than an hour to assess a new horse, but now I take a couple hours and then I ask for a trial period so I can hire a pro and a vet to do an assessment.

Oddly I’m more suspicious of people that tell me the horse they are selling is perfect and has no vices than I am of someone who just says they don’t know or they bring a vice to my attention. One must filter out all the extraneous input when buying a horse, and most of all never fall in love with the beauty of a horse. The beautiful horses are usually the most squirrelly.

Oh well, it’s time to pucker up and kiss some frogs, again and hope that we can get this round over with quickly.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Fear of Falling

I had a fall this morning. I saw no reason for it. I always trod the outdoor stairs carefully. They were wet but not slick. After picking myself up I tested the footing and there was no reason for my slipping.

Falls are memorable because adults don’t fall all that often, and it’s quite a scene when it happens. I don’t count falling in slash as a fall. While working with piles of branches it’s hard not to fall.

I clearly remember most falls in my life. There was a fall from my ascent into a tree fort. I fell from a high bank above the Lewis and Clark River, into the water. I fell into the ocean when a horse I was riding at full speed on the beach moved quickly to one side to avoid a wave. I kept going forward through the air. Another time I was riding bare back and a car drove by hitting a pot hole and spooked the horse. I landed on my back and heard snapping in my spine and in my neck. I thought I would be paralyzed. I was actually surprised when I could actually wiggle my toes.

Every fall leaves me with some sort of injury; usually my back, once my ankle but the fall this morning really messed up my left knee and it wasn’t involved as far as I remember.

When you think of it, we really don't fall that often, so that is why it comes as a shock to us when we do. Consider all the trips and stumbles we have. For bipeds we are extremely stable on our feet. If you have a four legged animal I'll bet you've seen them fall more often than you have fallen.

I know I have many falls ahead of me as I age. I can see how older people have a real fear of falling. I’m starting to develop a healthy fear of it myself.

I had an elderly friend tell me once that there is no problem with falling, but rather it's the sudden stop on the ground that makes life difficult. I can see there will be a day when a cane will come in handy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Space Sex

One of my abandoned topics I mentioned last week was Space Sex. You will now see why I abandoned the topic.

I wonder if anyone has ever had sex in space. There was a husband/wife cosmonaut team a few years back, did they do it up there? It’s hard to believe that none of the testosterone filled thrill junkie test pilots didn’t take a few moments to enjoy themselves while in orbit by them selves.

Men and women, men and men and solo men have been going into space for forty years now. It’s hard to believe that no one ever thought of, attempted, or followed through with weightless gratification and pleasure.

Space suites aren’t a problem because they aren’t worn after orbit is established. Astronauts dress in t-shirts and a sort of scrub bottoms. Quick and easy access for sure. Weightlessness would provide several challenges to couples which could be overcome somewhat by Velcro. Solo acts would require…well never mind, just think about it…or not.

People are often critical of the NASA budget feeling they don’t benefit from the tax dollars spent in space, regardless that they have satellite TV, GPS and all sorts of space technology they live with on a daily basis. If common people can get to experience space as a sexual aid it might change minds toward future funding priorities and approvals. It seems to me that space sex could become an industry not only for lovers, but it could give a total new angle to the porno industry to exploit as well. Space sex could fully fund NASA and all they wish to accomplish in the future.

Also, sex in space gives a whole new meaning to "drifting off" when you are finished.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Roll Call

The topics I posted on over the weekend brings to mind how I’ve come to know many of you over the years. The Astoria Rust family has been growing every month. I no longer check stats, but back when I was a stat whore I was getting about 80 unique hits a day.

The earliest readers here were TH and the Cartons. I found Mother of Three and commented on her blog and she returned the favor and I think brought with her one of her readers, Jaggy, Auntie L and I think this is how Mel found Rust as well. Mel brought with her Donna and a new commenter as of yesterday, Loopysandqueen came via Mel or Denise. I don't recall how Denise came here. I may have found her site first. Carrie B seems to have the ability to sniff out a new local blog within minutes of its inception. I think Jeff came here through NCO.

I found Syd at Adrenaline’s Shadow by mistake. She used to use blogger, and one day while logging on to post I saw the name of her blog scroll by on the login screen. I don’t know what it was but the name intrigued me so I clicked on her blog and I’ve returned several times every day since. Syd has become my closest cyber friend. Posting replies on her site got some of her readers to visit my blog as well; Trop, Weese, Bayou, Lachlan, Zoe, Boo7 and Lee. Boo7 readers Trish and Beth then became readers here.

I have no idea how Lori Hahn found me, but she seemed to have brought Mike S along for the ride. I don’t know how Rich found his way here. Matt said he found this blog through My stats reported I was getting hits from his site so I looked him up and saw that he linked me.

I found Chantel on Orblogs. She had written a story about a very personal piece of machinery that was broken. I lurked on her site for months before ever replying to something she wrote. I love bloggers who are as open and honest as Chantel. I want to say so much about her and what she writes, but it would be hard writing about her charms without being obsequious or flirtatious.

Moosehead and Gearhead come this way by another association. Robb is my nephew. Thom is a friend in New York State who is married to a lovely woman I dated while in my 20s. There are many readers that read every day and never reply. Some reply anonymously, which is cool.

Through the association of the readers I have 53 blogs that I subscribe to. I get notification when they are updated. So if you are a regular reader and have yet to reply, please do and formally join the Astoria Rust family.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Guenevere Had...

I’m curious if people have more of an affinity for people of their own eye color. When I think back on the people I’ve dated during my life the majority had blue eyes, like me. I don’t know if that was just a roll of the dice or if I am drawn to blue eyed people.

I recently commented to someone about their blue eyes, and they seemed to take offense because their eyes were actually green. It was a call I made because I assumed they were blue. I knew they weren’t brown. Green eyes are hard to pick out on some people. They are kind of blue, and I’m not the type to stare into someone’s eyes for detail because I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable.

That’s an odd thing about green eyes. The color green is made from blue and yellow, yet I’ve never seen anyone with yellow eyes. Brown is made from red and yellow and one never sees red eyes. Blue is the only primary color in the human eye.

Elizabeth Taylor is said to have violet eyes. Albinos have what is considered as pink eyes, though the albinos I've known always wore sunglasses at all times.

I have to confess that my favorite eye color is a very light creamy blue. I only know a hand full of people who have that color, and I think all are women, though I don't often stare into the eyes of men. I always get weirded out when I come across a dog or a horse with blue eyes, but somehow it’s OK when a cat has blue eyes. Damn, this is a weird topic. Thanks for indulging me.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Having a blog has been really cool. I’ve become acquainted with many people I would never have met (virtually) in a million years. I have people writing me privately sharing scoops with me on all sorts of topics. I don’t write about 90% of the stuff that crosses my screen, but I am happy that folks share with me.

I’ve had several readers send me photos of people vomiting for my sick day posts. Keep em coming, by the way.

I’ve had people share music, DVDs and other items with me. I’ve had the opportunity to sip coffee with many of you over the years at the nicest coffee houses in town. I’ve met out of town bloggers here as well and I’ve visited some out of town bloggers on their turf. There are more I have yet to meet and promise I must; Chantel, Mel, Syd, Jaggy, Donna, Rich, Mike, Beth, Trop, Moosehead, Lachlan and Bayou, and Weese. Hope I haven’t left anyone out… I’m sure I’ll run into locals; Evil, Nootka and Walt one of these days.

Blogging has presented me with the opportunity for some writing on the side. I’ve had some opinion pieces that Tryan has run on North Coast Oregon, which is an honor.

Some articles I’ve posted here still get comments though they were posted months or years ago. I have comments from the blog e-mailed to me so I don’t miss any. My anti-United Way posts still get random comments every once in a while, and my article on Fibro Myalgia still has them coming in.

I’ve had some criticism over the years and I don’t mind it. Believe me, I know sometimes I’m full of shit, but I write it any way because it’s fun and entertaining. There are times where I didn’t realize that I was full of shit until months later. Though many are too proud to admit it, I openly admit when I’ve changed my mind. I’ve seen other bloggers delete their articles, and forum comments when they’ve changed their minds, hoping to cover their tracks. I know that readers have long memories, so it’s best not to try to BS your way out. Changing ones mind is sometimes fun. It’s like someone opened the door in a stuffy room and let some cool clean air in.

Blogging is what wakes me up every morning. As you may know I write all this stuff in advance. Before I go to bed every night I ponder what will be published the following morning. When I wake up I know which article it will be and I try to have a final look at it before committing to posting it by 5:30am.

Oddly, even after doing this for a couple years now I still wonder where the next idea will come from and just how long I can continue doing this on a daily basis. I’m sure I will run out one day. All I know is that I have today and tomorrow covered.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Abandoned Ideas

I keep a tickler file on my computer for things I eventually want to write about. The list has been growing for a long while and there are topics that I’m either too lazy to research fully, or it sounded like a good idea when I thought of it, but no longer appeals to me. Since I don’t want to toss the topics all together I figured I’d blog about all of them so I can clear my tickler.

My tickler file also has an open Sick Day post where I put ideas for future sick days, and it has an open Death Pool file where I put names of people who come to mind who may be on the list for next year.

So here you get to see some of my blog process and what I won’t be working on in the near future or perhaps ever. Some day I may have an entire post of photos that I hoped to use but probably never will.

So I present you ninteen ideas that are being removed from the back burner and placed into cold storage.

Home Made Corn Flakes: Not worth the effort
Religion and History: Why both are often wrong
Art and Artists: So many artists, so little art, but lots of goofy hats
Fuzzy Laws: Why are some laws still up for interpretation?
Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer: Musical Dream Team
Justice and Punishment and Un-Just Punishment
Ample Women with Wenchly Behaviors
Man Boobs and Bowling Shirts.
Rufus Wainwright
Manson, Hitler and Bush, A Comparison
Making Paper
Horse Slaughter and No-Kill Shelters
Shatner’s Music Request from Auntie L
Sex in Outer Space
The 60s Happened in the 70s
Shel Silverstien
Yukio Misima Enters Eternity for Reasons of Vanity

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mason Bees

The Orchard Mason bee is the common name of a nonsocial native bee (Osmia lignaria) that pollinates fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables. It is found throughout most of North America, particularly in wooded areas but often around homes in towns and cities.

With the declining feral or wild bee population, the Orchard Mason bee can be easily attracted to pollinate crop plants. It is a gentle, shiny blue-black metallic bee, and slightly smaller than a honey bee. Males are smaller than females and have longer antennae and an additional tuft of light colored hairs on the face. Females have hairs on the underside of the abdomen adapted for carrying pollen.

This bee does not live in a hive. In nature, it nests within hollow stems, woodpecker drillings, and insect holes found in trees or wood. Sometimes, there may be dense collections of individual nest holes, but these bees neither connect, share nests, nor help provision or protect each others' young.

They are active for only a short period of the year. They are not aggressive and they may be observed at very close range without fear of being stung, unless they are handled roughly or if trapped under clothing. They make excellent pollinating insects, but do not produce honey.

The female Orchard Mason bee visits flowers to collect pollen for its young. She uses existing holes in wood for a nest, and chooses holes slightly larger than her body, usually 1/4 to 3/8 inches in diameter. The bee first places a mud plug at the bottom of the hole, then brings in 15 to 20 loads of nectar and pollen which she collects from spring flowers, including apples and other fruits. Pollen can be seen on the underside of her abdomen as she enters the nest.

When the female has provided a sufficient supply of food for the larva, she lays an egg and then seals the cell with a thin mud plug. She then provisions another cell, and continues in this fashion until the hole is nearly full. Finally, the bee plasters a thick mud plug at the entrance. Starting the life cycle in the spring, adult males emerge from plugs first, but must wait for the later appearance of the females in order to mate. Females alone begin founding new nests in holes to make a row of five to 10 cells in each nest. Females collect the pollen and nectar and lay eggs.

Their short foraging range is about 100 yards from the nest. Activity continues for four to six weeks and then the adults die. During the summer, larvae develop inside the nests, make cocoons, and become new adults resting in the cells. With the onset of fall, the adults become dormant as they go into hibernation. These bees require some cold temperatures before spring in order to break their dormancy.

Bee houses are easy and fun to make or can be purchased commercially from several vendors. Making your own can provide you and your children with hours of fun and even more entertainment once they are hung up in your yard to entice new bee pollinating tenants. Simply take some non-treated wood (firewood, scraps of lumber) and drill holes 3 to 5 inches deep but not all the way through the wood block. A drill bit sized 5/16th of an inch works best for Mason bees including the Blue Orchard Bee. The holes are what the bees make their nests in. Each individual hole is a nest for an individual bee. That’s what makes them solitary even though the holes are all together in one block.

They will make more females if the holes are 6” to 10” deep, so you might want to invest in a long drill bit. You can make deep holes with a short bit, but you’ll have to drill several boards separately and attach them together, which can be difficult.

You can also buy books and supplies like bee straws from along with straws that already have brood inside. These straws may be stored in a refrigerator and placed out doors when fruit trees start to blossom.

Put the nest blocks up in February and the bees will usually be done building by early June. Leave them alone until at least October so the larvae inside can remain undisturbed. Then you can take them down if you want to move them to your orchard or you can leave them where they are. Put the houses up facing south to southeast to let a little morning sun on the houses. They should be somewhat sheltered from the rain.

Mason bees may not reuse the same block the next year because it is easier for them to find a new hole somewhere than it is for them to clean out and reuse an old hole. A remedy for this is to place paper or plastic drinking straws in the holes. Remove and replace them once the bees have come out. If you pull some out too early, don’t worry, just place them in a safe environment where the bees inside can escape when they are ready to emerge.

Mason bees find and use holes in the strangest places. One day I went out to use a shovel and found that a mason bee had used the hole I put in the handle to hang the shovel on a nail as a place for her brood.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bumble Bees

I had some email replies to yesterdays article asking what people can do to promote pollination for their gardens and for the environment since there are few wild honey bees found locally any more.

There is actually a great deal individuals can do. Today and tomorrow I will post articles on native pollinators. I hope this info helps.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION: Bumble bees belong to the genus Bombus of the family Apidae, order Hymenoptera.

SIZE: 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches (19.1-38mm)

COLOR: Generally black and yellow

DESCRIPTION: Bumble bees are large, hairy bees that collect and carry pollen on their hind legs to bring it back to the hive. Bumble bees are beneficial insects.

HABITAT: Primarily found in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, often ranging farther north and higher in altitude than other bees. Fifty species of bumble bees are known in North America. They are most often encountered while foraging at flowers. They may nest in wooden storage sheds and small barns, in trees with natural cavities, and in cavities in the ground.

LIFE CYCLE: A queen, who is the egg-layer, heads Colonies. Workers are the daughters of the queen. Drones (males) are produced during the mating season in mid summer. Unlike the honeybee, the bumble bee colony only lives for one season. The new queens mate with drones in late summer and then hibernate alone through the winter. All drones and workers die before the winter. The new queen will emerge in spring to start a new colony. They normally do not reuse the hive from the previous year.

COMPARISON TO HONEYBEES: Strong bumble bee colonies may only have a population of 200 bees as opposed to the honey bee colony which may have several tens of thousand in their population. The bumble bee worker can use its stinger more than once and live to sting again, unlike the honey bee who can only sting once and then dies leaving its stinger behind. They do not use dance to communicate like the honeybee. Bumble bee and honeybee drones have no stinger. Bumble bees do not hoard and store honey like the honeybee, they use it as feed for their young and for the hive. Since only the queen survives the winter there is no need for honey stores to hold a colony over.

COLONY: The bumble-bee nest consists of a spherical chamber with a single exit. The queen chooses a preexisting cavity, such as an abandoned mouse nest, in which to begin her family. Most species nest in the ground. The queen forms a small mound of pollen paste in the middle of the nest, lays several eggs in it, and seals it with a small dome of wax. She also constructs a hemispherical wax cup, called a honey pot, in the entranceway floor and fills it with nectar. The queen feeds on this nectar while she incubates the eggs. The newly hatched larvae partially consume the paste in their cells. They are later fed by the queen through a small opening in the cell wall. When the larvae are fully grown, they spin cocoons in which they metamorphose, eventually emerging as the first workers of the new colony. The workers rear subsequent larvae in individual cells. Workers are small if born early in the year, and large if born later in the year.

POLLINATION: Bumble bees are important pollinators of many plants and are able to work in colder temperatures than honeybees. Both queens and workers collect pollen and transport it back to the colony in pollen baskets on their hind legs.

NEST BOXES: A bumble bee nest box is easy to build. You can attempt to lure a new queen into taking up residence by your garden. It is best to have more than one box. This does not guarantee that bumble bees will move into the boxes you provide every year, but the chances are good if you place boxes near areas where you have seen them foraging.

The boxes should be placed in full or partial shade. The entrance hole should be from 4" to 10" off the ground in an area where there is no possibility of flooding the entrance. The nest box needs to be elevated to prevent excessive moisture. Place weights on the cover to insure that weather and animals cannot remove it. Place it where children, pets or lawn mowers will not disturb it.

If no colony has been established by the end of July, return the nest box to storage until next season. Your nest boxes will last a long time since they will only be exposed to the weather during April, May, June, and July each year until they get a colony. Bumblebees emerging from hibernation in early spring are fertilized queens. They may search for up to two weeks to find an "ideal" nest site. A spring queen with pollen in her pollen baskets has already found her nest site. Avoid checking the nest box for activity. If a queen is disturbed before really settling-in, she will most likely move on. If you get one box in three occupied, you have been fortunate. Reinstall your nest boxes every year, and hope for the best.

A bumble bee nest is rectangular box which measures 6 inches tall, 6 inches wide and 13 inches long. Inside it has two compartments. The first measures 5 inches by 6 inches and serves as a staging ground where bees will defecate and set up defenses from the main nesting cavity located at the back of the house. The back or main cavity measures 8 inches by 6 inches and this is where queens will spend their lives.
Place cardboard on the floor of both chambers. This will make annual cleanup easier. Place cotton or wood shavings in the larger chamber to act as a nest.

You may also build in a covered peep-hole on side with sliding wood cover and protective screen. This allows visual inspection of the main nest chamber so you can view bees once they are living inside. It can also serve as a vent by keeping just slightly open if house is kept in excessively hot region.

WHERE TO USE IT: Outside where bumble bees are active. This could be in a garden, along a fence row, under hedges, between elevation breaks, by a flower bed, around mulch piles and just about anywhere bumble bees have been seen foraging. There really is no limitation or restrictions and since they make a great conversation piece, the more the merrier.

Construction and Placement of Bumblebee Nest Box

Scrap plywood (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thickness.)
A rough cut 2 x 4 (such as cedar) about 6½ inches long.
3/4 inch pvc pipe, 6 to 8 inches long.
1/8" x 8" x 15" clear acrylic panel (optional, but practical)
Front and back each 5½" high x 15" wide
Sides each 5½" high x (8" minus two times the thickness of the material used), e.g. if using 3/4" plywood, the sides pieces will be 6½" wide.
Bottom 10" x 15"
Top about 14" x 17"
Acrylic panel 8" x 15"

Drill vent holes near the top of the side panels. Cover with fine screening which should be glued or stapled firmly into place. Assemble side panels to front and back panels to form a box as in the diagram. Fasten the box to the bottom plate with the landing area extending to the front as shown. The diagram shows that a 3/4" hole should be drilled through the 2 x 4 connecting the two chambers about an inch from the back of the box. Fit the roughly surfaced 2 x 4 to the bottom plate, front panel, and back panel, so that two chambers are formed. One chamber should be 5½" wide and will serve as a vestibule. The brood chamber will be 8" wide. There should be 2" of air space above the 2 x 4. Surfaces of the 2 x 4 need to be rough so that the bumblebees can climb over it with ease.

Drill a hole in the front panel to accommodate the pvc pipe. The pipe should extend from the front panel up to the hole in the 2 x 4. Before installing the pvc pipe, spray the interior of the pipe with black paint. Spring queens will be looking for mouse holes, so you want to minimize reflected light inside the entrance pipe. The pipe should be held in place by a tight fit in the front panel and by some glue or caulk between it and the bottom plate. Place a small quantity of upholsterer's cotton in the brood chamber.

The acrylic panel need not be installed unless you wish to inspect an established colony. Certain species such as B. fervidus and B. pennsylvanicus are known to prevent such inspections. Most others range from "slightly more forgiving" all the way to "quite docile." I prefer to install the panel so that an energetic skunk or raccoon that is large enough to remove the top cover will still have no access to my bumblebees.

The top cover should have some type of drip cap installed all around the perimeter of the underside so that no water could run toward the box. This could be done with 1/4" to 3/8" quarter round molding or any wood or metal scrap. The exterior portions of the box should be sealed and painted because there is no way of knowing how many years before any particular box gets a colony. There is no need to finish the interior of the box, because it is protected from the weather and should you be fortunate to attract a colony, it will be necessary to discard the box at the end of the season of actual use. Discarding a used nest box is important because there is no practical way to sterilize a wood box. There are a wide variety of parasites, which feed off bumblebees and the nest contents during the season. Eggs of these parasites may be deposited in cracks and crevices. Nest boxes constructed of metal or plastic could probably be cleaned with steam or chemicals. Wood boxes are quickly made, and easy to replace.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

OSU Cuts and Runs

Being a big fan of pollination as anyone who eats should be, I am saddened by the lack of progress being made at Oregon State University. Lately every news paper has been running articles on the collapse of honey bee colonies, and the most recent thing I read is that OSU isn’t even considering funding any honey bee research. Instead they are thrusting the burden on the agriculture industries to raise a million dollars for an endowment to fund a position.

This position was funded by OSU until their apiculturalist retired about five years ago. At that point Dean Thayne Dutson cut and ran and remained obtuse to any suggestion of restoring the position. He turned all negotiations over to associate Dean, Anita Azeranko, who seems to be more of a shill for the OSU Foundation than someone who would be willing to lobby for the importance of resumption of the program.

Dutson is now on his way out and will be replaced by Bill Boggess, as executive associate dean of Oregon State University's College of Agricultural Science. Hopefully Boggess will understand that if research isn’t done real soon the rest of his ag students better learn how to pollinate plants with paint brushes. They will be working harder, not smarter.

At present the local agricultural groups such as seed growers, orchardists, beekeepers, and others that need pollination to survive have raised about $25,000 with pledges that could probably double that figure. However they will never be able to raise enough to endow a position. As they near their goal the bar will be raised as it has been raised twice already.

WSU and UC Davis have departments working on this problem. How can OSUs agricultural program justify not being involved and shouldering some of the burdens that are being carried by other research institutions? Mr. Boggess, you have an opportunity to make your mark right here; right now.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nemo Found

After I posted the piece last week on abandoned buildings, Nemo wrote me and sent me the two photos in this article. I asked his permission to repost these photos and what he wrote me. I give you Nemo:

---been enjoying the Rust blog, thought you might like to see this photo of an abandoned Lighthouse/Rangelight that used to stand around where the current Nygaard's sorting yard is between Warrenton and Hammond or, as the oldtimers call it,"Flavel" was a great place...the rooms were stacked on top of each other and you went up ladders through the kitchen, sleeping room to get to the top where a great unobstructed view of the lower river and town could be had...spent many a happy hour up there with friends and girls-smoking things and having was sad for the locals when it was knocked down sometime in the 1970s...

Another great place was an Army observation tower that was on the ridge behind Bob Strickland's place opposite the Country Club... when you got to the top of that one there was a fantastic view of the ocean, Clatsop Plains and the River Mouth...all that's left of that one is the tall concrete pillar that supported the wooden structure built around've probably seen the surviving pillar..the wooden part was demolished for being an attractive hazard some years ago....Another great one is the secret underground Army radar or(?) right up on top of Tillamook Head...left over from WWII, it's built as stout as Battery Russell and probably will be there forever or until The Head falls into the ocean.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Give It Away

I once attended a wedding of an Indian (NA) couple where it was their custom to give and not receive gifts on their wedding day. These were thoughtful gifts intended for each person they gave it to, not the same gift for everyone. What a wonderful gesture and an amazing concept.

After writing the post on storage units the other day and after reading your comments I’m going to declare this week as the first annual “Give Something Away Week.” You know we all have more than we need and we all know someone who is in need. So do the deed, give something away this week and post a comment and tell us about it. Post anonymously if you don’t want to seem like you are bragging. (By the way, Auntie is exempt because she already gave away the entire contents of her former house a couple weeks ago.)

The only rule is to give away something you already have. Don’t buy something to give away. Lighten your load and give away something you already have and no longer need. Offer it, don’t push it. If it isn’t wanted you can rejoin it to your collection or find someone else to give it to.

Donating goods to a local charity will qualify as well. Keep in mind the food bank, the Women’s Resource Center, and the Animal Shelter. The goal is to have less at the end of the week and be better because of it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Seeing The Distant

I wear contact lenses, but my eyes are of the age where I need cheaters when I read. When I'm not wearing my contact lenses I have a pair of normal glasses that I can not read with, so I either need to take them off and read with my uncorrected eyes or put on a pair of bifocals. I have it all worked out. I never go anywhere without the ability to read.

I spent some time at the Columbia River this week. I was watching this group of ducks that would float out with the tide to a certain point and then they would all fly and land up stream. They would float down again and when they reached a certain point they would fly and return again to their up stream place. This went on probably twenty times. They weren't eating or mating. They were just floating and flying with no reason that was obvious to me. This has nothing to do with this article. It was just a cool thing to observe.

Every once in a while something would float past that I wanted to take a better look at, but all I had were my lensed eyes and my reading glasses. It was then that I realized that what needs to be invented is a pair of cheaters one can put on to see things in the distance better. Yes, I realize that there are binoculars, but they are too bulky to carry at all times. I want a pair of cheaters that can fit in my pocket where I can put them on and elevate my distance eyesight to about 10 power. Wouldn't that be cool.

If one of you are about to try to invent this, I'd also like like a night vision version along with the capability to see in ultra-violet and infrared. Thanks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


I realized the other day that I have never actually seen anyone wear a monocle. Sure we’ve all seen Colonel Klink, Charley McCarthy, the Penguin and Mr. Peanut sport this fashionable eye wear from the 1830s, but why are there no monocles today?

From what I’ve read, custom made monocles fit the eye orb and are quite comfortable. I think it would be cool to see people wearing them again as a sort of bling. I bet the trend would last thirty seconds longer than the Nehru Jacket lasted. That could mean millions.

The look of a monocle would be a genteel statement and possibly the mark of a new civility in our nation. So come on folks, make your annual eye appointment and order a couple.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Abandoned Places

Mother of Three mentioned something about abandoned places the other day. I reflected on all the abandoned places I visited while growing up. There were abandoned homesteads, abandoned mansions, abandoned barns and farms and abandoned cars and trucks. All these places were fascinating to me even if all that was left was a stone foundation that was filled with water and leaves.

I learned a lot about the architectural and mechanical world from the abandoned places I visited. One can see the weakness in a structure or a machine that has been abandoned. Sometimes it was very obvious why they were abandoned in the first place, though I always looked at these things as possible fixer-uppers.

I always respected the abandoned properties. Others would hasten their decay with vandalism. I was never a vandal.

I’ve come across a few abandoned places here in Dried Salmon County. I was fortunate to visit some of them though there were many that I wanted to see close up that were destroyed by wind or fire before I ever got to them, like the old school house at Olson's Dairy in Meleville, the barn at the mink farm on Ft. Clatsop Road

I hope we all can spend some time with one of these dying soldiers. Take some photos, imagine a time when there was life there, and most of all, remember.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Angela Black

It is time I revisit my freedom fighting friend from Lostine, Oregon, Angela Black, formerly Angela Eckhardt. Though I’ve never met Angela face to face, our literary paths cross from time to time. I once wrote her to thank her for an article she wrote for the Capital Press, and she wrote back telling me she once referenced one of my articles. We are now in touch from time to time with questions and answers for one another. Her Capital Press articles inspire me.

It has been a joy to watch this wonderful thinker and writer evolve over the years. Her love for family, agriculture and freedom makes her a super patriot in my eyes. I love her ability to connect the dots and see in advance when things will be going terribly wrong.

On her blog, she describes herself and her relationship with the Libertarian think tank. “Thus it was that a young dreadlocked liberal worked for four years at a libertarian / free market think tank Cascade Policy Institute - achieving the position of director of publications. … As I learned more about the well-intentioned libertarians and their well-funded conservative allies, I began warning of this libertarian-conservative relationship as an "unholy marriage forged in hell."

Angela moved with her husband to the Wallowa Valley and tried their hands at self-sufficiency by raising their own animals and foods and generating power and fuel production. They started Freedom Solutions NW and describes it as, “the world's only anarchist think tank (that I know of). Now before anyone freaks out, anarchist simply means ‘without a ruler.’ Our aim for Freedom Solutions was (and is) to develop non-political solutions to advance freedom, on the idea that the political system is too slow, corrupt and divisive to promote true freedom anymore. Among other things, we began teaching people small-scale fuel production skills; we amassed a lending library of freedom themed books, movies, and how-to manuals; and we began to develop a plan for a network of similar independently run freedom themed resource centers around the country and world. True freedom fighting isn't a lucrative endeavor, I'm afraid.”

Angela currently writes a twice monthly column for the Capital Press, and she writes for Wallowa County Chieftain when ever she takes a break from home schooling her children and tending to farm chores.

Angela now has a blog which she plans to populate with her articles on agricultural and rural freedom. Hopefully she will either repost her body of work there or at least provide links to her various articles. You can visit her blog at

Finally someone understands what freedom is and how bad things can get when we lose our freedoms. As I’ve said before and will continue to say, “Right on, Angela!” Thanks for your voice and your commitment to an almost forgotten concept.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Real Conservatives

We often hear of the “Right Wing Conservatives.” These are the people that seized the flag after 9/11 and dressed in it as the only patriots in America. Our flag became the standard window dressing for the Conservatives. They waved it to justify the war. They used it to justify the removal of civil liberties. They used it to push through the Patriot Act. They used it to justify torture. All this begs one to wonder if they are really as conservative as they project themselves to be.

Fiscally, our nation has gone from a wealthy nation to one which is over financed and nearly totally owned by the Chinese. Billions have been spent on war and the rape and pillage of our natural resources.

When one hears the word conservative, one would think of conservation of economy and natural resources. Now consider the following situations and who would be the real conservatives; the Right wing or the Progressives:

Who does more recycling and reusing?
Who doesn’t want to spend money on the war?
Who doesn’t want private companies to exploit natural resources in sensitive areas?
Who is willing to use less to curtail consumption?
Who is more supportive of and willing to use mass transit?
Who is championing the purchase of locally produced foods and goods?
Who does not support the importations of all the Chinese crap that is sold at Wal*Mart?

The Progressives seem to be out-conserving the Conservatives by a large margin. The Right Wing credo states that taxes need to be cut, yet they spend more. That isn’t very conservative. It is time that the term conservative goes where it belongs; to those who conserve. The word Liberal now needs to go to those who are spending like there is no tomorrow. An a hint if I may, if they keep it up at the present rate there may not be a tomorrow.

Progressives need to take back the flag and call them selves the True Conservatives. They want to use less, spend less, and recycle and re-purpose what they have used. Those formerly known as Conservatives really need to be known as Liberals for their liberal spending and irresponsible tax breaks for the wealthy.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Trojan Horse Candidates

The season of local and national politics has just begun and we will soon be asked to cast our ballot for those who we think will represent our best interests. There is a balancing act that will go on in the minds of many where the statements of a candidate are weighed against the statements of the other candidates. A decision will be made.

Candidates that make statements are good because you know where they stand. What I don’t like are the Trojan horse candidates, which are those who evade questions. Most national candidates prefer not to grab the third rail with topics of Social Security and abortion, but once they are in office they come out of hiding.

I fear that there will be attempts to place Trojan horse candidates from both sides of the fence of the Richard Lee recall in the consideration for the District 3 County Commission Seat. Fortunately most people have made their impressions known and they will not be able to disavow their positions. Further polarization will more than likely be the result. People will be voting on issues.

I would like to see a candidate say, “I don’t know” and sincerely means it. This would be a candidate who may actually have some objectivity along with a thought process. One who might use reason and weigh the benefits against the disadvantages of everything they are asked to vote on. These are the candidates we deserve, not the ones that have prejudged each vote long in advance, or go into office with an agenda.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sick Day XX

I am sick of slack jawed, knuckle dragging, mouth breathing, gap toothed, Flipper laughing, patchouli stinking window lickers. Have I missed anything? Oh, and I'm sick of all things Oprah as well.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I’ve been driving by the new storage units that are going up at Miles Crossing and I think of all the storage units in Gearhart and Warrenton. It makes me wonder what the hell is so important that it needs to be kept, while unimportant enough not to be kept at home.

I can understand using a storage unit if you are in transition between homes or if you will be traveling and you want to return to an area and not pay rent or a mortgage while you are away.

What I can’t understand using a storage unit for is because you have too much stuff to fit in your house. Really, if you have so much stuff you will feel much better selling or donating it. These storage units aren’t cheap. About fifteen years ago I had to rent one for some stuff we needed to find homes for when we moved two homes into one. It was an eight foot by ten foot room with a light bulb which went for $50 a month. We had everything given away within two months.

Just for shits and grins (that’s a Gearhead phrase, by the way), I looked up some prices for storage on the Internet. I kept coming up with a five-foot by five foot spaces renting for about $60 a month. 5 X 5 is 25 square feet and you usually get a door and a light fixture. Now let’s say an average apartment is 800 square feet. At storage prices you would be paying $1,920 a month for an apartment.

If you want to get into business, don’t buy an apartment complex because not only will you have to deal with tenants, but you also have to deal with plumbing, heating, sanitation, safety and so on. As a mini storage owner you can charge twice as much and provide only a cement floor, a door, a light bulb and minimal climate control.

You should consider selling all your junk and cashing in on the junk of others and their obsessive compulsion to hoard.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Apocalypse Now, Actually 0n April 15

The new State ethics disclosure regulations may do some serious house cleaning on local boards and commissions. What politician in their right mind would want to have all their finances as a public record? Besides that they also need to report the names and addresses of relatives. If I were in politics I wouldn’t want a disgruntled constituent calling my mother to complain about my decisions at three am.

The Planning Department of Elgin Oregon all resigned because of these new disclosure regulations.

Is any ones’ finances so boring that they don’t mind disclosing information that will still be out there long after they give up their office many elections down the road? My finances are real boring, yet I would not want them being accessible to the public. I don’t even like to use my Fred Meyer Rewards Card because I become fodder for their marketing machine. They know too much about me already; rat bastards.

All I’m saying is that I won’t be a bit surprised if many local elected officials jump like lemmings on April 15 unless someone puts an end to this new disclosure regulation. There may be a lot of board, commission, council and mayoral seats up for reappointment (too late for an election) in May. This may become a political Apocalypse on Oregon.

Friday, April 04, 2008

You Want Money For What?

OK I’m pissed. Twice this month I’ve had friends get in touch with me to tell me that they are intending to adopt a baby and they asked me for my financial support. WTF? You want to adopt a baby and you are begging for money to do so? What does that say about your skills of providing for your family? If you can’t afford to adopt a kid on your then you shouldn’t adopt a kid. What the hell makes you think you have the resources to continue rearing this child, if you can’t afford the down payment? More ironic is that they are asking me…someone who doesn’t even like children. You’d have a better chance of getting money from me for you gambling addiction or your 20/20, Night Train habit.

Now as for adoption agencies charging so much for this baby brokering, I think people should boycott you until you have so many babies on your hands that you will pay people to take them, you rat bastards.

Now, I know the biological clock it ticking, and you love feathering the nest and you think that having a child will equal more love in your life but damn, get a puppy and get over it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Ration

Most of the people who are alive in this country today are fortunate to have never experienced any form of rationing other than having a limit on sale items at a grocery store; first three with coupon.

Oddly, I feel fortunate to have actually experienced rationing on the East Coast in the 1970s. Yes, it was strange that you were only allowed to buy gasoline on even days if your license plate ended in an even number, or at other times allowed to purchase five gallons. It was a serious shortage and we lived with it and found ways to wiggle around it.

One way was to always have a police scanner on because the gas stations would alert the police when they would be opening. The police needed to be there for crown control for bad tempered customers and to be the last car in the line when the station was about to run out. Once you heard on the scanner that a station was going to open you ran out the door and got to the station before the line formed. Once five cars were lined up all cars in the viewing distance would stop in their tracks and join the line.

You were very fortunate if you could actually hit three station openings in one day. Some people would fill up cans with their allotment and sell the gasoline on the black market. Most people had private sources. Some people would drive 30 miles up the New York State Throughway and turn around to hit the no limit station on the way back.

With this experience in my past I wonder if people could survive any rationing these days. Can you imagine the craziness that would surround a present day gas ration, or worse yet food rationing? During World War II just about everything was rationed. Every person made an effort and went without to support the war effort. Imagine how quickly the present war we are in would end if rationing were imposed on the average American citizen today.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Horney People

I’ve never been a horn honker. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to find the horn on my truck if I ever needed it. There are people who honk their horn every time they drive by my house. I know it’s usually one of three persons doing it. I’ve tried to get them to stop, but they are just honkers by nature, so be it

I have another friend who blew her horn so often that it ended up squirting out this multi tonal squawk that sounded like a goose was being horribly choked. Eventually her horn went silent so she bought a new car. She seems to no longer abuse her new horn as she had with her former appendage.

I believe the Pacific Northwest is more polite in regards to horn use. I’ve driven through most of the larger cities and have been stuck in traffic on many freeways, but it isn’t often when people honk. New York and Boston, however are different stories. I sometimes wondered if people were broadcasting Morse code messages. Horns back there are essential communication devices. You can hear the subtle difference between a “Hey, how are you” and a “You Dirty Rat Bastard Mutha F….er”

I theorize it is the difference between the heritages of the population. Many of the people on the East Coast come from generations of passionate people from warm climates, Mediterranean especially, where here most people seem to come from colder, less passionate, more conservative climates.

Though I live many miles away from the Columbia, sometimes on a foggy night I can hear the fog horns of the ships on the river. The ships should have a radar array that is good enough to see anything around them, yet they still blow their horns. I have to wonder if it is really necessary, or is the Captain is of warm blooded stock who just hast to make the announcement, “Ay Douche bag, I’m coming through, get the frig out of my way or I’ll blow this horn up your ass!”

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

There's No PLace Like Home

It’s good to be back. All my distant engagements are over for a few months. I still have a few coming up, but they are all within 150 miles of home. I am sick of staying in hotels, and smelling like hotel soap. I’m sick of seven hour, one-way drives through ice, snow, rain, mud slides and fog. I do miss the convenience of high speed internet that hotels provide these days, but I’ll get over that and learn to love my dial-up connection at home again.

One thing I will miss is the hospitality of the people all over the Pacific Northwest. When ever I do a class or lecture at a conference I meet the coolest people. I meet so many people who have traveled to Astoria at one time or another and they are so gracious and complementary toward our region of the world. It “is” beautiful here.

It feels very good that people were actually able to benefit from what I can share of my knowledge and experience. It’s great to hear a room full of a hundred people laughing with you and not at you. It is cathartic to be able to share your mistakes with others so they may learn from them. It’s also nice to see the expression on people’s faces when they “get it.” It’s really funny to retire to your hotel room after talking for six hours and see yourself on the local TV news because agriculture is important to these regions. It's also funny to see that it is true, the camera does add 20 pounds. It is very gratifying to read emails of thanks and follow-up questions when you get home. It’s especially nice to be invited back to do it again the following year and to get other invitations to speak elsewhere.